Between trying to make a last-minute song addition to his October 2 release, Pain Is Love, before it goes through the mastering process this weekend and hitting the road to promote the album, you'd think Ja Rule wouldn't have time for any extracurricular activities. And you'd be right. During a Monday conversation in the Murder Inc. recording studios, a facility nicknamed "the crack house," Ja admitted his newfound prosperity as an R&B songwriter has him feeling the pressure.
"They're paying top dollar and they want their records now," the rapper said of all the singers who want him to pen tunes for them. "I'm avoiding phone calls and everything 'cause I'm trying to finish my own album. It's a crazy game. You gotta be a workhorse."
The Ja Rule-penned remix of the Jennifer Lopez hit "I'm Real" has helped J.Lo. rise steadily from # 90 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart in early July to a top-10 position this week and next, according to a Wednesday (August 29) SoundScan report.
"She's mad cool. She goes in, knocks the sh-- out, no problem," said Ja of Lopez, with whom he'll perform "I'm Real" September 6 during the MTV Video Music Awards. "I love artists like that."
Although Lopez and Sony Music CEO Tommy Mottola are credited with first recognizing Ja's aptitude for writing R&B tunes, Mariah Carey was actually the first songstress to get a song from Ja.
The 25-year-old said he wrote a cut for Carey's upcoming Glitter and guests on the track with Nate Dogg.
"It was kinda crazy because I wrote the words with Mariah," he said. "For the J. Lo joint, they dropped off a CD and said, 'Do what you want.' That was weird because I hadn't written a whole R&B record before. They had faith in me.
"I'd been pumping it up that I could do it," he continued. "I'd done it before, just f---ing around, but never gave it to nobody. They gave me the chance, I did it and it turned out to be a hell of a record. Now we get so many calls and I got so much work to do."
One of Ja's top priorities is returning to the studio with Lopez. He's writing the lyrics for an "Ain't It Funny" remix.
"I'm about to f--- y'all up," he boasted. "We use the 'Flavor in Your Ear' beat, but it's remixed and vamped-up crazy. It's totally not J. Lo.
"It's J. Lo now because of 'I'm Real'," he said, correcting himself. "It's gonna put her in another zone. After this one, they gonna be expecting hot crossover R&B joints from J. Lo. They ain't gonna want the pop version of J. Lo no more, they gonna want the 'I'm Real' version."
In addition to Lopez and Carey, Ja looks forward to working on upcoming albums by Brandy, Macy Gray and Enrique Iglesias.
"I'm just now getting the feel for what each artist wants," he said. "I know the style Brandy wants, but with artists like Macy Gray or Enrique Iglesias, I gotta get their albums and listen to their sh--. I'm hip-hop; now I have to tap into their worlds."